Music

Jon at La Parisienne, circa 1986
Jon at the buskers' carnival
Jon at a national busking contest, 1987 (I came second)

Once upon a time (well, for about 10 years actually) I used to sing for a living, accompanying myself on guitar, mostly playing songs from the Swing Era, mixed in with a bit of blues and jazz. Sadly, little survives in the way of decent recordings or even pictures from my singing career, but here are a few fuzzy renditions that give a hint of what I did (and, to a much lesser extent, still do)

1980s

Recordings from the Greys pub in Brighton, 1987.

My baby just cares for me (Donaldson & Kahn)

My baby just cares for me (1987)

Buddy can you spare a dime (Harburg & Gorney)

Buddy can you spare a dime (1987)

In the mood (Garland & Razaf)

In the mood, 1987

Sweet Georgia Brown (Bernie, Pinkard & Casey) (with Mike Mann on spoons)

Sweet Georgia Brown, 1987

A few songs from around 2001

I did these as I was trying to get the hang of making digital recordings, made in my office at home. They’re very quick and dirty, with a very small amount of double-tracking on the guitar solos, but the quality is a little higher than the earlier live recordings.

Guilty (Whiting, Akst, & Kahn)

Guilty

Every time we say goodbye (Porter)

Every time we say goodbye

So Tired (Morgan & Stuart)

So tired

And so it goes on: the 2010s…

In December 2010 my wife bought me a saxophone, starting me on a process of learning a new instrument a year, which I’ve been doing ever since. I’ve never learned any of them at all well, but I love the way it forces me to use different muscles and new ways of thinking and feeling. This rendition of St James Infirmary is from 2011, about a year into my sax learning process (I’m not really any better at it now). It is also my first attempt at multitrack recording with Garageband on the iPad. There were some sync and balance issues, not to mention lots of fluffed notes, but I rather like the very raw and wonky way that it turned out:

St James Infirmary, 2011

I later got to stay in the hotel that is claimed to be the site of the actual St James Infirmary. How cool is that?

In 2012 I gatecrashed the OpenEd conference cruise as there happened to be a few of my friends at the conference, and the cruise boat happened to be leaving from a dock that is about 10 minutes away from where I live by False Creek Ferry. After a drink or three or four, I joined in the jamming session, and someone recorded it. I should note that I usually sing this song (Summertime) half an octave lower, and mostly with less alcohol, for reasons that may be painfully apparent…

Here is a rough rendition of how I normally sing Summertime, recorded at a live open-air performance in Leg-in-boot Square, Vancouver, August 2020. The recording is a bit awful: it was really windy and I just left a recording device sitting on the mic stand with no wind protection, right next to the guitar, so the balance is all wrong, the sound is wobbly, and I was wearing a full-face shield, which made my voice sound a bit distorted and boomy. It was a nice (socially distanced) crowd, though….

Summertime (George and Ira Gershwin), 2020

In 2018 I did a gig at the Pie Shoppe, in conjunction with SugarCubeCabin, my favourite local sponsor of the arts. Here’s an ad for it on Instagram, put up by the Pie Shoppe Girls…

 

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Here’s a recording of me singing I Wanna Be Like You from that session…

I wanna be like you, 2018

And here’s a video of me singing the same song about a week later in Donnellan’s pub, Granville St, Vancouver…

King of the Swingers, 2018

And Istanbul, from my Pie Shoppe session

Istanbul (Pie Shoppe, 2018)
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